STOCKTON, Calif. (KTXL) — In the first in-person address since 2019, Stockton Mayor Kevin Lincoln laid out the city’s response to the pandemic and touted the progress the city made on homelessness while also addressing the city’s struggle with rising homicides.

Mayor Lincoln laid out his vision for the city’s future and what’s being done to move the city forward despite its challenges.

“Stockton will become the best city in America to live, raise a family, and grow a business,” Mayor Lincoln said.

He highlighted the city’s pandemic recovery efforts including support for underserved communities and small businesses and funding for homeless solutions.

Several high school students were in attendance and shared how COVID has impacted them.

“I think that COVID really impacted a lot of my peers because we lost so much time together, and we lost so many of our developmental stages,” Shelby Miller, a Stockton Early College Academy said.

Homelessness is also an issue that is a priority for most people living in Stockton.

“With all this land that we have and all the places we could put them maybe, I just want a solution,” Paulette Amos Gross, a member of the African American Chamber of Commerce said.

Lincoln noted the progress the city has made on this front including the millions spent on homeless support services.

“We must have compassion for our homeless community, but their rights do not supersede the rights of law-abiding Stocktonians,” Mayor Lincoln said.

When it comes to crime in the city students said more needs to be done because they don’t feel safe on campus or in their own community.

“I don’t feel as safe as I wish I would and I would like that to change,” Felix Chen, a Stockton Early College Academy said.

The city has seen a surge in homicides this year, and they are up 62% from last year.

“I have full confidence that we’re going to move our city forward and provide the safety and security needed for our residents,” Mayor Lincoln said.

Students said they would also like to see more community events and opportunities for young people.

“A city as large as ​Stockton, there’s definitely more that we can bring to the table,” Miller said.

Lincoln says the future is bright for Stocktonians.

“The city has an opportunity to become a thriving, 21st-century city for all. This is our moment,” Mayor Lincoln said.

While Mayor Lincoln shared his vision for Stockton’s future, the homeless crisis and crime are major obstacles that will have to be addressed before his vision can become a reality.